Deputy PM: Turkey, Israel likely to sign compensation deal after local elections

Photo: Deputy PM: Turkey, Israel likely to sign compensation deal after local elections / Turkey

A compensation deal with Israel over the Mavi Marmara raid is likely to be signed after the March 30 local elections, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinch said on March 25, signaling a long-awaited thaw between the two countries, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The final reconciliation text on the monetary figure was delivered by Israel last month, Arinch said, adding that the Turkish government would re-evaluate and turn it into an official agreement to be approved by the two countries after the elections.

Israel apologized to Turkey on March 22, 2013, for the Mavi Marmara raid, but the normalization process could not be completed because of differences on the amount of compensation and its legal definition. The two countries' diplomats met at least four times last year.

When the agreement is signed, relations between Israel and Turkey should be normalized at a diplomatic level with the two countries assigning ambassadors, Arinch said.

The deputy prime minister emphasized that the agreement needed to be approved by the Turkish Parliament after it is signed, adding that the process to normalize relations could begin immediately after the two countries agree to a deal.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said last month Turkey and Israel were as close as they have been yet to ending the saga.

"The final agreement came from Israel around a month ago. But as you can see, both sides are busy. The first task after the elections will be to complete the compensation issue as a legal document. After that, the document will be sent to Parliament for approval," Arinch said.

The deputy prime minister also underlined the role played by U.S. President Barack Obama during the process. "The lion's share in the success belongs to Mr. Obama," Arınç said. The breakthrough in 2013 was engineered by Obama during a visit to Israel, as the U.S. president convinced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a 30-minute telephone call to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for the 2010 incident.

"President Obama used his influence on Israel and appealed for a compromise," Arinch said.

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